Pizza Expo’s return to Las Vegas challenging, yet triumphant
After a series of COVID-19 induced cancellations and postponements, International Pizza Expo finally made its triumphant return to Las Vegas in August 2021. Eager attendees and exhibitors alike poured into the city’s Convention Center to celebrate and elevate the industry after a prolonged absence that left many missing the world’s most prestigious pizza event.
“Being able to have Pizza Expo again, after such a long layoff, was simply amazing” says Jeremy White, who helps put together the seminars, demonstrations and workshops for the show. “It was a long, and often harrowing, 29 months between shows. That span was filled with anxiety and heartbreak all too often as the pandemic gripped our country and forced Pizza Expo — as well as pretty much every other live event from concerts to county fairs — into temporary exile.”
Show Director Bill Oakley says feedback from exhibitors was positive, signaling a presence of attendees looking to conduct serious business on the show floor.
“Many exhibitors had more qualified leads than in 2019, and that’s because those attendees who were able to travel to Las Vegas were truly excited to be there,” says Oakley. “After not staging a show in 2020 and dealing with the effects of the pandemic and the labor shortage, pizzeria operators did not just want to do business on the show floor — they needed to do business on the show floor.”
Seeing thousands of industry professionals come together again was a definite highlight of 2021. And it serves as a sign of better things to come, says White.
“With such an engaged and energetic audience, it felt like there was a real buzz at events within the Expo, such as the International Pizza Challenge or the World Pizza Games finals and our block party,” he says. “Pizzeria owners were genuinely happy to be together again, conducting business, swapping stories, sharing experiences and merely relishing the moment that was 29 months in the making.”
For a list of competition winners, visit PizzaToday.com. For those who had to miss this year’s event, some of the educational seminars will be available throughout the fall on PizzaExpo365.com. Finally, for more information on the upcoming Pizza Expo that is right around the corner — March 22-24, 2022 — visit PizzaExpo.com.